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(2nd LD) Park visits virtual reality exhibition to promote VR technology as growth dynamo

All Headlines 17:08 October 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more remarks from Park in paras 7-9)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Friday visited a virtual reality (VR) exhibition in Seoul to provide fresh momentum to her government's drive to nurture the promising technology sector as a new growth engine.

The exhibition, called Korea VR Festival, began its four-day run on Thursday. Nearly 80 companies, including those from the United States, Japan and China, have joined the event held at the Nuri Dream Square, a tech cluster in western Seoul.

Park met with the heads of the participating VR companies and highlighted the prospect of the VR sector creating new business opportunities and bringing about innovation in various realms, including education, medicine, defense and tourism.

"(The areas where VR can be applied) can be infinite," Park said at the exhibition.

"This will help create new jobs, which will contribute to our country's efforts to make a great economic leap," she added.

President Park Geun-hye (L) speaks during a meeting with the heads of some virtual reality (VR) tech firms at the Korea VR Festival held at the Nuri Dream Square, a tech cluster in western Seoul, on Oct. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)

The chief executive also pledged to offer more "systematic" government support for VR-related companies, calling on them to push to develop the technology sector with the "pioneer spirit."

In a separate meeting with entrepreneurs, Park stressed the need to create a climate in which intangible assets such as VR-related content are respected.

She made the remarks as some VR firms complained about their difficulty attracting investment and getting loans from banks that appraise firms based largely on their tangible assets.

"Now, (financial institutions) should look into the future or potential of each company and recognize its intangible assets, based on which they can make their investment," the president said. "We should make a change (in this direction)."

In August, South Korea designated the plan to foster the virtual reality sector as one of the nine "national strategic projects" that include those involving artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, biotechnology and light-weight materials.

To develop the VR sector, the Seoul government, in cooperation with the private sector, plans to invest some 400 billion won (US$359 million) over the next five years. The investment plan includes raising a VR fund worth 40 billion won and expanding tax deductions for research and development investments.

The world's VR hardware and software market is expected to rise to $2.2 billion this year with a figure projected to reach $80 billion in 2025, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said, citing data from global investment giant Goldman Sachs.

President Park Geun-hye (R) engages in a virtual reality (VR) experience program at the Korea VR Festival held at the Nuri Dream Square, a tech cluster in western Seoul on Oct. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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